Hawaii military ready to render aid to Philippines

Hawaii military ready to render aid to Philippines
AP Photo
AP Photo

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - U.S. Army Pacific's Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team is ready to deploy to the Philippines if it's needed.

HAST has 16 full-time members but can be expanded to 25. They're experts in logistics, aviation, communications, engineering and protection.

Lt. Col. Michael Brophy calls them highly-trained soldiers.

"They're able to assess and communicate that assessment back to the rear, so that decisions can be made rapidly," he said.

When they hit the ground, the soldiers set up a command post, establish communications, and feed back intel through state-of-the-art equipment.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Papa Kone demonstrated how a handheld device functions as a camera, note pad, and GPS locator, so damage assessments can be filed from the field.

"We fill out the assessment tools. Take some pictures. Take some notes. And I can sync it into a centralized data base," he said.

That information is essential for deploying assets.

"What's been broken? What's been destroyed? What are critical capabilities that need to be filled?" Brophy said.

A Marine Corps HAST team is in the Philippines. The Fort Shafter based team is on standby to relieve or assist.

Also at the ready, two C-17 flight crews from the Hawaii Air National Guard can add more air support in areas ravaged by super typhoon Haiyan.

"The C-17 can go straight into those types of austere airfields," Lt. Col. Chuck Anthony said.

Even though a large international contingent is focused on Philippines relief, the pilots know they could be called to duty at any moment.

"Because of the degree of the devastation that occurred, and the fact that this recovery is going to take some time, you can just kind of figure that this operation is going to be going on for a while," Anthony said.

The Air National Guard and the U.S. Army team are trained to respond to disasters in Hawaii and throughout the Pacific region. They are always ready.

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